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- Hanley Ramirez To Play First Base For Red Sox In 2016
- Austin Jackson Clears Waivers, Generating Interest
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- Mariners Fire GM Jack Zduriencik
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- Francisco Rodriguez, Darren O’Day On Revocable Waivers
- Denard Span Possibly Out For Season
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- Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter
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Colby Rasmus Rumors
The Astros sent Jon Singleton to Triple-A to begin the season in the wake of his lackluster 2014 numbers and a poor Spring Training, yet the former star prospect is doing his best to earn a return ticket to the bigs. Singleton has 11 homers and an impressive .274/.386/.632 slash line over 140 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, highlighted by a two-homer, 10-RBI game last night. While stats in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League have to taken with a grain of salt, Singleton’s production is certainly a positive sign. Here’s some more from Houston…
- The time is now for the Astros to promote Carlos Correa, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal opines. While the Astros’ decision to give Correa more Triple-A seasoning is a reasonable one, Rosenthal argues that if Houston will just promote him in two weeks if he’s tearing up the PCL, the club should just get him to the bigs now. Correa would instantly upgrade the Astros at shortstop and help the team maintain its surprising first-place status.
- Righty Lance McCullers has also been promoted to Triple-A, and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that McCullers could potentially be in the mix for a Major League call-up this season. “The reality is if he’s pitching the way he’s been pitching, we could probably benefit from having him here. There is a possibility he will be here,” Luhnow said. McCullers was a top-100 ranked prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America prior to the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but his stock dipped a bit following an unimpressive year at high-A ball last year. The 21-year-old rebounded to post an 0.62 ERA, 13.3 K/9 and 3.91 K/BB rate over 29 innings at the Double-A level this year.
- Colby Rasmus is enjoying his time in Houston, the outfielder tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. Rasmus is one of the more experienced players in the young Astros clubhouse, which seems to be a relief for him given how he wasn’t happy playing for the more veteran Blue Jays last season. Rasmus said he felt judged “in the sense of how much (service) time you had, and the pecking order, just feeling comfortable in the clubhouse. I’m not going to go into any details, but I feel more comfortable in this clubhouse and in this environment.”
The Astros have listened to trade ideas regarding their surplus of position players, but are not actively looking to deal, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. There’s currently no way to get Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Jon Singleton, George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and Chris Carter in the lineup all at the same time, Drellich points out. But their depth gives them options in case players get hurt or struggle. In particular, Gattis and Rasmus have significant injury histories, while Singleton and Marisnick are unproven. The team could also platoon Gattis and Rasmus in left field. Here’s more from Drellich on the Astros.
- If the Astros were to make a trade this Spring, it might involve a depth player like Alex Presley rather than one of the more regular players mentioned above. Robbie Grossman could beat out Presley for the last outfield spot. Presley is out of options, and there’s at least some possibility the Astros could lose him if they expose him to waivers. From this vantage point, the risk seems minimal, given that Presley didn’t hit well last year and is making above the league minimum (at $1MM). But given the depth he represents, that possibility is at least worth considering.
- Hank Conger has struggled this spring, but he’s still penciled in as Castro’s backup at catcher.
- Three players whose situations are unresolved are minor-league free agent pitchers Joe Thatcher, Roberto Hernandez and first baseman Dan Johnson, Drellich says. Thatcher and Hernandez are Article XX(B) free agents, so before Opening Day, the Astros must decide whether to add them to the active roster, release them, or pay them $100K retention bonuses (and give them June 1 opt-out date). Thatcher is likely to make the team as the Astros’ second bullpen lefty. Johnson, who is not an Article XX(B) free agent, also has an opt-out date, although not until after the start of the regular season.
Outfielder Colby Rasmus, who signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Astros this offseason, sat down with Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past weekend to discuss his tumultuous tenure with the Cardinals, and in doing so, he revealed an interesting view of his future in the sport. Rasmus told Hummel that he wasn’t eyeing a particularly lengthy career. Rather, he hopes to play this season in Houston, then possibly play for another three years before retiring to his recently purchased cattle ranch to spend time with his wife and two daughters.
“I’m getting a little older now” said the 28-year-old Rasmus. “I’ve been taking a beating on this body. I’m a lot older than I used to be. Playing on that turf in Toronto was pretty tough. It has a nice slab of concrete underneath and I was diving on it. I didn’t baby myself and take it easy.”
While one can hardly blame Rasmus for wanting to spend time with his family, it’s rare to hear a player express a desire to retire at such a young age. Rasmus will only have recently turned 32 at the end of the 2018 season — an age at which many are still in the latter stages of their prime and seeking lucrative multi-year deals on the free agent market.
Rasmus won’t likely be hurting for money by that point; he’ll have earned more than $23MM in salary by the end of this season alone (plus a $1MM signing bonus from the draft), and another three years of market-value salary could easily double that sum, if not more, depending on how Rasmus plays in 2015.
Still, this is certainly something to bear in mind as Rasmus approaches free agency again next offseason. While it’s entirely possible that a new environment and getting away from artificial turf will change Rasmus’ tune when it comes to his future, sticking to this desire would create a rare scenario in which a player in the midst of his physical prime would seek a limited contract in terms of years.
As such, a big season from Rasmus in Houston could lead to a very interesting trip through the free agent market, with teams potentially bidding aggressively in terms of average annual value, knowing that the allure of additional years won’t necessarily hold appeal. Of course, with a big enough season — e.g. something similar to his .276/.338/.501 batting line from 2013 — teams may very well try to test his convictions by offering longer-term deals at a price that’s difficult to turn down.
Just a day after trading Dexter Fowler to the Cubs, the Astros look to have found a replacement, as the team announced on Tuesday the signing of Colby Rasmus to a one-year deal. The Excel Sports Management client will reportedly take home an $8MM guarantee, and his contract does not contain any options.
Rasmus, 28, entered the offseason as one of the most intriguing available free agents. Though he struggled a great deal in terms of average and on-base percentage in 2014, Rasmus again showed solid power and possesses upside that much of the free agent class could not match at the onset of the offseason. Overall, Rasmus batted .225/.287/.448 with 18 homers in 376 plate appearances in a season that was shortened by a hamstring issue. He also lost some playing time late in the season as Toronto elected to see what it had on its hands in top prospect Dalton Pompey.
Houston has always seemed like a plausible landing spot for Rasmus, but the match really opened up with the recent trade of Fowler to the Cubs. The Astros have Jake Marisnick in hand as a right-handed hitting center field option, but could potentially pair him with Rasmus in some form of platoon. Though Rasmus has not played the corner outfield since his rookie year, he could presumably spend time there as well.
In essence, the Astros appear to have swapped out Fowler for a combination of Rasmus in the outfield, Luis Valbuena at third base(acquired in the Fowler deal and likely to replace Matt Dominguez) and possibly Dan Straily in the rotation (also acquired in the Fowler deal). The addition of Rasmus serves as another transaction with short-term ramifications for an Astros team that made a 19-game improvement in the win column in 2014. The club has also added Evan Gattis recently, and the team is also said to be in serious talks with Ryan Vogelsong, who is reportedly in Houston for a physical. However, in spite of last season’s improvement, it can’t be ignored that the team still won just 70 games overall.
One also has to wonder about the Astros’ apparent decision to load up on so many strikeout-prone players; Rasmus joins a group of regulars — Chris Carter, George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Jason Castro — who whiffed at a 30 percent clip or higher. Though Houston projects to have an abundance of power throughout the lineup, Astros fans may again need to be prepared for a strikeout-prone offense and somewhat of a boom-or-bust approach at the plate.
As for Rasmus, a multi-year deal for him never appeared to materialize, so he will now look to make good on a one-year deal and hit the open market again next winter heading into his age-29 season. That’s still younger than the typical free agent, though Rasmus will have the unenviable task of stacking up against the likes of abnormally young free agents such as Jason Heyward and Justin Upton on the open market in the 2015-16 offseason.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were talking (Twitter link). Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweeted that Rasmus was in Houston for a physical. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the deal would be one year once it was finalized. MLB Network’s Matt Yallof first reported the guarantee (Twitter link), while Jon Morosi of FOX Sports added that the contract contained no options.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rockies are discussing outfielder Charlie Blackmon with more than one team in trade talks and are hoping to get pitching in return, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal write. The Rockies haven’t made a significant pitching signing this offseason, and Morosi and Rosenthal write that the main reason is that they’re having trouble attracting pitching to Coors Field. The Rockies think they can deal Blackmon for a pitcher and then sign an outfielder, given that Denver would be an attractive destination for an outfielder for the same reason it’s a poor one for a pitcher. (The outfield market is rather thin at this late point in the offseason, although Colby Rasmus could be one possibility.)
Blackmon, 28, is coming off a solid 2014 season in which he hit .288/.335/.440 in 648 plate appearances. He also has another year before he becomes eligible for arbitration, so he would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target. Morosi and Rosenthal note that the Rockies have asked the Mets about Dillon Gee, for example, but Blackmon would surely have more trade value than Gee does (and the Mets probably aren’t on the hunt for a starting outfielder anyway). The Rangers, Braves, Orioles and Cubs could all make sense as potential trading partners.
The ongoing rumors about Dan Duquette leaving Baltimore to become the Blue Jays’ new team president have cast a fog over the Orioles’ offseason, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes. While Peter Angelos’ statement yesterday allegedly ended the matter, Schmuck notes that Duquette himself has yet to address the situation, and the speculation will continue until Duquette makes a definitive statement about his future. Here’s more from Camden Yards…
- Schmuck noted that the lack of resolution with Duquette could create tension within the front office, and according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, this could already be the case. More than one source within the organization described the situation as “toxic,” Kubatko writes.
- The Orioles are preparing a preliminary list of candidates who could potentially fill Duquette’s position if he did leave, The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports. The list includes four former general managers (Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya and Kevin Towers) though none have yet been contacted. If a hiring is necessary, this new front office figure would join manager Buck Showalter and VP of baseball operations Brady Anderson in making personnel decisions, and the new hire could be working under Anderson on the team’s depth chart.
- The “ball is in the hands of” Blue Jays’ ownership now, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets (multiple links), as it seems as if “an extraordinary offer” will be required to get the O’s to release Duquette from his contract. Since Duquette hasn’t come out and said he wants to stay in Baltimore, Olney notes that the remaining scenarios are that a deal is worked out between the two teams or Toronto decides to look elsewhere for its next president.
- Colby Rasmus is looking for a raise from his $7MM salary in 2014 and the Orioles aren’t eager to pay him more than that amount, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. While the O’s are still interested in the free agent outfielder, they’re hoping to land him on a relatively team-friendly one-year deal, Encina notes. It had been widely assumed that Rasmus would pursue such a pillow contract in the wake of his underwhelming 2014 season to potentially set him up for a richer multiyear deal next offseason.
- Also from Encina, right-hander Chris Tillman confirmed that he’s interested in an extension with the O’s, though he is leaving the negotiations up to his representatives at this point. “I think it’s smart to listen, and I think it’s dumb not to,” Tillman said. “You weigh all the options and go with it. I don’t know a whole lot about it, to tell you the truth. My agent called me about it, and I told him, ‘You know what? Call me back when you know something.’ That’s not me. I’m day to day. I roll with the flow.” MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Tillman as an extension candidate.
The Red Sox made their annual announcement of front office personnel changes today, and among the most significant changes is the creation of a department of behavioral health, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox will hire Dr. Richard Ginsburg as the department head, and he will pair with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who served as a mental skills coach with Boston from 2005-13. Tewksbury left the club for a year to work with the MLBPA, and Speier writes that his absence was noticed by young players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts as they struggled to transition to everyday roles. Said GM Ben Cherington of the new department: “We’re trying to take care of the body as well as we possibly can… Health extends past the body, but it’s all related. … We’re really just trying to help players be as healthy as they possibly can be, physically and mentally.”
More from the AL East…
- The Red Sox may have to sell low on Bradley Jr., as they did with Will Middlebrooks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Boston will likely trade Bradley or another outfielder before Opening Day due to the fact that they have a logjam in the outfield. Mastrodonato opines that Bradley absolutely has the upside to be an everyday center fielder in the field and at the plate — his defense is already considered among the best in baseball — and worries about the danger of moving him only to see him take off with another club. He likens Bradley to Carlos Gomez, who was slow to develop but has always possessed a good glove and is now a perennial MVP candidate in the NL. Bradley may not have that type of power, but Cherington has told Mastrodonato this offseason that he thinks there are other clubs that will perceive Bradley as an everyday outfielder, and the Sox feel he has that ability as well.
- Though the Orioles have not approached right-hander Tommy Hunter about an extension, the setup man tells Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore that he’s certainly open to a long-term deal to remain with the club. Hunter’s agent, Mike Moye, just wrapped up negotiation on a contract to avoid arbitration for the final time, settling on a $4.65MM salary for 2015. Hunter is one of 11 Orioles that can hit the open market next winter, and while he says he’d love to see the group stay together, he acknowledged that that the business element of the game prevents that before adding, “Let’s win this year, and worry about everything else after.”
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com penned a column with multiple Orioles notes, including the fact that the Orioles had definite interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland. However, the Rays brought up names such as Dylan Bundy and Chance Sisco in talks, neither of whom GM Dan Duquette was willing to surrender.
- Kubatko also notes that the Orioles don’t appear to have interest in a reunion with Johan Santana, and there’s nothing hot between the O’s and Colby Rasmus at this time. Baltimore’s interest hasn’t waned, but they’re maintaining the same level and don’t appear willing to go beyond their comfort zone to add him to the roster.
- The Yankees are wise to have looked at the big picture this offseason rather than focusing on the immediate, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Historically speaking, the Yankees have lived largely in the present, doling out large contracts with little regard for the potential negatives at the end of a deal. However, despite needs in the rotation, the Yankees have stayed out of the Max Scherzer market and haven’t been seriously connected to James Shields or Cole Hamels. Rather, the club is prioritizing defense and a strong bullpen. While their 2015 outlook may not have improved much, Castrovince writes, the team is in a better place in the long-term due to exercising caution.
- Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith hosted a Blue Jays chat with readers today and covered a wide variety of hot stove topics. To name a few, Ben noted that he doesn’t foresee a reunion with Casey Janssen, that he expects Dioner Navarro to open the season with the club and that he believes the team will end up acquiring a new closer prior to Spring Training.
The Orioles could be preparing for Delmon Young to play more next season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. “Delmon Young is an accomplished major league hitter who had a nice year with a lot of clutch hits in part-time duty in 2014,” texts Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We look forward to his return and contribution on our 2015 team. Depending on how the team is structured, he could have a more vital role this season.” Playing the right-handed Young more regularly could help make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz, although the Orioles continue to look at the left-handed Colby Rasmus as well, with an Orioles source telling Encina the odds that the team will sign him are “50-50.” Here are more notes from around baseball.
- About two dozen teams were expected to be on hand for Alexi Ogando‘s showcase yesterday in Tampa, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Ogando, 31, was non-tendered by the Rangers this offseason after he missed much of the 2014 campaign with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although he had a rough time in 2014 with an ERA near 7.00, Ogando entered the season with a career 3.12 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings split between the Rangers’ rotation and bullpen. Given his track record of success as both a starter and reliever, it’s not surprising that more than two-thirds of the team in the league would want to get a look at him to gauge his health for themselves.
- Johan Santana is again plotting a comeback, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick updates his progress. The lefty is preparing to appear in a Venezuelan winter league game and hopes to sign before camp opens, agent Peter Greenberg says.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t want to handicap the odds of his club signing ace Johnny Cueto to an extension prior to his specified Opening Day deadline when asked by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Jocketty says the Cincinnati front office has a lot on its plate right now, with arbitration cases for Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Cozart on the horizon. The Reds are also still pursuing upgrades for the bench and bullpen — a process Jocketty referred to as “slow.” Sheldon feels that given the Reds’ full 40-man roster, the most likely scenario would be a few additions on minor league deals with invites to big league camp.
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- The Yankees and Red Sox “are the heavy favorites” to sign Yoan Moncada, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets. Moncada will be eligible to sign once he receives U.S. government clearance, though when that clearance comes is a major factor in regards to New York and Boston. Neither team can spend more than $300K on any player during the 2015-16 international signing period, a penalty incurred for exceeding their 2014-15 int’l bonus pools. If Moncada isn’t cleared before June 15, the Yankees and Sox will be out of the running, as Moncada will command a bonus in the $30MM-$40MM range.
- The Orioles‘ deal with Delmon Young may not be announced until Friday, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports, as the team is still waiting for final details from Young’s physical. The O’s are also still figuring out how to clear a spot for Young on their 40-man roster.
- Also from Kubatko, nothing has changed between the Orioles and Colby Rasmus, though the O’s “must be viewed as the favorites to sign him.”
- Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman discussed the team’s offseason with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain.
Here’s the latest from the Orioles and the Nationals…
- The Orioles‘ negotiations with Colby Rasmus “are gaining steam,” ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. Manager Buck Showalter personally visited Rasmus over the weekend and the O’s have interest in Rasmus on a one-year contract. Rasmus has also recently had some talks with another AL East team, the Rays.
- Johan Santana‘s stint with the Orioles was cut short by a torn achilles tendon last June but team executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko earlier this offseason that the O’s were open to bringing Santana back on a new contract. Santana is scheduled to pitch next week in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- Also from Kubatko, Delmon Young‘s signing is expected to be officially announced today, meaning the Orioles would have to make a 40-man roster move to make room. In the wake of the J.P. Arencibia signing, Kubatko speculates that Baltimore could drop a catcher since they have five other backstops on the 40-man — starter Matt Wieters (obviously not a candidate to be dropped), Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Ohlman.
- Ben Zobrist and the Nationals are an “almost perfect” match for a trade given the team’s need at second base and the news of Jayson Werth‘s shoulder surgery, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Rosenthal feels the Nats would make a push to acquire Zobrist, though there are a few complications to a deal. Zobrist would join Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann as notable Nationals on the 2015-16 free agent market, and thus the Nats might be hesitant about adding yet another player who would require a qualifying offer. I’m not necessarily sure this would be a big concern for Washington; I wouldn’t think Clippard or Span would get qualifying offers anyway, and the other four would surely reject the QO in search of lucrative multiyear deals.
- Also looking ahead to next offseason, MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko notes that the Nationals don’t need to worry too much over potentially losing both Zimmermann and Fister to the open market given the number of other quality arms available in free agency next winter.
- With Werth and Nate McLouth both question marks due to injury, James Wagner of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals could bring back Nate Schierholtz as outfield depth. Schierholtz signed a minor league deal with Washington last August and appeared in 23 games for the club.